I have been thinking that this is the case for awhile. I studied Chinese History in College. It is fascinating beyond belief. I have thought the China has been waiting patiently for awhile to bury or attempt to bury the United States.
To anyone closely watching China’s rising power and growing assertiveness, history—in particular, America’s last major war with a rising Asian power—holds ominous warnings. For while Americans believe that their war with Japan began with the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Tokyo laid the groundwork for the outbreak of hostilities years before the surprise raid, establishing a network of bases and expanding its military’s power-projection capability. Pearl Harbor simply made Americans aware of a conflict that, in Japanese eyes, had already begun. Yet Washington and the U.S. military had missed the signs of just how close war was. Could this also be true of China today? Has the war with China already begun?
For decades, Chinese security strategy was aimed at deterring invasion via a huge but relatively low-tech military. When the Chinese economy took off in recent decades, Beijing saw new opportunities to flex its muscles. China’s national security and military strategies shifted toward power projection and contesting U.S. domination of the Asia-Pacific region. One of the most obvious signs of this has been the immense qualitative and technological improvement in the Chinese armed forces. According to a recent Pentagon report, China is pursuing “a long-term, comprehensive military modernization program” and investing in capabilities designed to defeat adversary power projection and counter third-party—including U.S.—intervention during a crisis or conflict.
This growing military prowess allows China to adopt a more assertive policy. Take, for instance, Beijing’s steps to control the South China Sea. The Pentagon report noted that in 2014, China “started reclaiming land and building infrastructure at its outposts in the Spratly Islands” to use as “persistent civil-military bases of operation.” As Bonnie Glaser explained in a report for the Council on Foreign Relations, this is fraught with danger and could spark an armed encounter in a number of ways. While Glaser assumed that direct confrontation is not China’s objective, this is not absolutely certain. Beijing clearly is willing to at least risk a clash with the United States more than it was in the past.